I don’t know how many Sunday morning “Message Notes” pages I have that are less message notes and more prayers of longing.
Longing to be the woman God wants me to be. Longing to know what is the “right” way, not the “easy” way. Longing to be the somebody or the nobody that makes a difference in the life of just one person. Even just one.
Earlier this year, I was agonizing over the state of the world, the country, our hearts, our minds. Just everything. When the Sunday service was over, I wrote for a few minutes, capturing what might have dissolved as I meandered through the lobby, chatting, sipping the last of my coffee, making plans for the rest of the day…
I know You are in control. I know You are.
I know You are.
I just don’t understand us.
We are outraged when children are taken or abused, but it seems that applies only to the children whose families fall into certain limited groups.
How can the leaders of a country claiming to be pursuing a return to greatness allow and even condone such deplorable and cruel treatment of the most vulnerable?
How can we be proud of this?
Can I keep this outrage and work from it?
Can I muster the courage to speak out and agonize over this as a strong woman of God — and have your blessing?
Can I hold the pictures of them in my mind and NOT do something?
Is this OK with You?
Week by week, day by day, moment by moment we walk through what may be a field of clover or a valley of landmines. I approach social media with a painful combination of interest and dread.
I anticipate sweet pictures of your vacation or new puppy. I long for news that the boy who was lost is found and the surgery that may have been deadly will instead bring a loved one new life.
At the same time, I pray that those I love and respect and with whom I disagree will be loving and respectful in return as they promote their views. I hope there are no hidden eyerolls and that the sarcasm is at least lighthearted. I am relieved if I am not called a fool.
And I go back to those notes. That longing to be the woman God has called me to be.
I’ve long stopped asking for the crystal ball or the billboard with His direction. I believe He is interested and Invested in every second of my life, but He also already gave me the mind and soul to make the most of that very life. When I consistently listen, I hear His correction when I mess it up and His approval when I am even close to right.
But as those landmines approach, as children are separated from parents, as friends seem more like adversaries, as greed overtakes charity, and as “becoming great” looks more like personal enrichment than devotion to community, I wonder what God wants me to do with my frustration.
Good golly, Miss Molly.
The word on some faith streets is that church is not/should not be political. I’ve heard it my whole life. We learned that preaching about candidates broke the spirit of the separation of church and state. I get it.
But we were never told that issues are off limits. Even those issues for which both sides – the yeas and nays – are represented. We were never told that people in leadership and church members cannot promote national love and community, or that we had to be in agreement about every question that arose.
(We do, however, need to remember The Essentials. “Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life.” “Love Jesus with all your heart, mind and strength.” “Love your neighbor as yourself.” These are not negotiable.)
My lovelies, controversy and arguments started long before voting machines and the two-party system. Can you imagine the campaign fodder if the “Bathsheba, Wife of Uriah” story was uncovered in today’s political climate?
In Bob Goff’s book Everybody Always, he speaks almost exclusively about loving people with wild abandon…and no exceptions. He wrote:
Pick the most controversial social issue of the day, and you’ll find passionate voices on all sides. The sad fact is, many of us have lost our way trying to help people find theirs. Arguments won’t change people. Simply giving away kindness won’t either. Only Jesus has the power to change people, and it will be harder for them to see Jesus if their view of Him is blocked by our big opinions.
I used to think we’d be known for whom we hung around [with], the groups or social issues we identified with, or the faith tradition we were familiar with. Now I think while we might be known for our opinions, we’ll be remembered for our love. (Emphasis added) (p.7)
“We’ll be remembered for our love.” Looking back at my life of self-centered goals and snarky comments, I wish that would have been the billboard. Forget about the job I should take or the house we should buy. Please, Jesus, keep telling me to first love.
My political opinions are valid and worthy and so are yours. But if they are held with pride and contempt for others, they have no more value than mist on the ocean, and we are fools to think they are anything more than that.
Again and again, I go back to those notes. That longing to be the woman God has called me to be. But, if I would have followed the path of “Love everybody always,” I’d bet long money the answers would have all been a lot more clear…
Loving is the woman God wants me to be.
Loving is always the “right” way, even if not the “easy” way.
Be the loving somebody or nobody that makes a difference in the life of just one person. Even just one.